Lies and Damnation - I take my language seriously. I want to always express myself perfectly, the first time. This is, of course, impossible. But I try anyway. One of my little pet catchphrases, when I am tediously belaboring someone else's incorrect expression: "precision in language!". Often followed by "my dear" or "my good man".

With that in mind, a few comments on political language often used online. My biggest pet peeve: "lies". A lie is the use of falsehood, yes. But it is more than mere falsehood: it is the intentional use of falsehood to deceive. In other words you have to know that what you are saying is untrue. Now, it is easy to find people saying things that are not true. But that does not equate to lying - to prove lying, you have to prove more. You must prove what the alleged liar knew when he or she lied. And that is hard to do, since we have no easy access to the insides of each other's heads.

Second peeve: "privilege". A "privilege" is a private law - a law designed to benefit a specific subset of the population, not everyone. People, especially leftists, use "privilege" when they mean "rich".

Third: the ascription of negative motivations, especially hate, to one's political enemies. No, I do not hate the poor. In fact I am for them - that is one reason that I am a libertarian. But just because my politics, if implemented, would be good for the poor, doesn't mean that socialists "hate" or are "against" the poor, even though they are wrong about how to help them. I take it as given that everyone is good willed, unless very explicitly proven otherwise.

And this leads up to "damnation", which Jim Henley says he's gonna write about more soon.

I think Henley's general analysis of the Iraq situation is the same as mine. Iraq is not going to end up a happy clone of Minnesota, or Chile, or even Israel. Rather it will swirl down into, at best, an authoritarian state ala the Shah's Iran, and at worst, an Islamic republic ala Iran in 1980. There is simply no way to have democracy, liberty, and a population of uneducated impoverished Islamic radicals. Pick two (if that).

That said, the preceding is by no means a popular analysis. It relies heavily on the notion that the mass of the people are powerful; and that states cannot shape events freely. Those are radical notions, not shared by the majority. Given that, it is not surprising that a lot of serious people authentically believe that Iraq will work. They are good willed; they just have shallow understanding.

Is it appropriate to damn people of goodwill but shallow understanding? Well, I think doing so is provocative, and might well get some folks to at least consider the idea that the State is not all-powerful. There is an upside. And as I previously stated, speaking in strong terms definitely positions you. Still, I am of the moderate temperment myself. I won't damn people until the evidence is clear that they are wrong; that they are on the wrong side of reality if they continue to propound policy that is hurting people but based on fantasy. I will, of course, continue to maintain my position.

I am also humble. It may be also be that I am wrong. For the sake of the Iraqi people, I hope so.

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